Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Will The Real China Please Stand Up

 I am packed and ready to return back home for the summer after four months in my new life in China. I have volumes to say about what I have experienced so far, but time is short and that flight leaves soon and so I will give it to you today in a nutshell and lots of revisiting and detailing will come later.

What I have learned about China so far is that everything I thought I knew before coming here was a half truth at best. China is evolving, growing, shifting and the complexity of life and society here is mind boggling. China's history is rich and deep and its people have had to be resilient throughout the ages. They have traditions that put family and community first and above the individual aspiration. The cities here are booming and Shanghai is the largest city in the world by population. This city is cutting edge and modern, full of seas of skyscrapers and luxury shopping, but it is also home to many rural migrants who have come to the city to work and improve life for their family. So the city is full of intersections between old and new, glamour and grit, luxury and poverty.

I have not even made it out of the city and into the country yet. Future adventures.    

 My family and I moved into an area of Shanghai called Jinqiao, but we tend to refer to it as "the bubble". The bubble is safe, familiar in many ways, it is full of expats from all different places, and it is in China, but it is not China. It has hints and flavours of China to be sure but it is a watered down and highly westernized version.

In my first months here I began to explore both inside and outside the bubble and I sensed the different personas and intricacies of the city and the people. I became keenly aware that in my neighborhood I was not seeing the "real" China, only catching short glimpses or subtle hints. These hints come in the forms of rickshaws pulling any variety of items, the corner turtle vendor I pass most days on my runs, noticing that someone is actually living in the animal stalls behind the fence down the street from my cushy gated villa community and touring the migrant village just a few miles away from my house but hidden down the alley ways and out of sight.

   Futuristic skyscrapers in Pudong Shanghai
Vegetable vendor in the migrant village 

The city is rich and luxurious and that is not a status reserved just for the foreigners, there are many Chinese from the city who are prospering and very wealthy, but the masses, the working poor and the migrant population are the sweat and tears of this blossoming abundance and modern flair.

I don't think I am anywhere near really understanding this city much less this country. Everyday I see something new or astounding. I know so much more is waiting to be revealed. The real China is many faces, millions of stories, it is ancestors and history, family and future. The real China is full of people just like us trying to make the best life possible for themselves and their children.             

Monday, June 3, 2013

Giving Myself Credit. Do you?

 On Saturday I taught the first ever, in the history of the world, Let Your Yoga Dance class to a sold out room of forty people in CHINA. Many of those people were local Shanghainese and so I also taught for the very first time with a translator. I went into this completely unsure of what would unfold, how these students would respond, how the language barrier would impact me and the practice. I was scared, which is typical for me, but this had a different edge, a sharp one.

A few days prior I had a skype call with my teacher and guide, Vidya. As we talked about this fear I was experiencing, we came back to the recurring theme, or samskara in yogic terms, in my life that is about worthiness. I tend to not feel worthy or to see my worth, my value. No matter how many hills I climb, or challenges I complete, no matter how much positive feed back I receive, it is never enough.


Vidya pointed out something very valuable to me. She said, "Jyotika, you never give yourself any credit. Others see such gifts and richness in you, but you don't see it yourself. You need to stop and notice what lens you are looking through. Some people wear rose colored glasses, but you are looking through a lens of no credit and it is a distortion."

What she says is so true. I don't give myself credit. I don't think I am alone in looking through this particular distorted lens either. I believe that we are culturally entrained and often parented to think that taking credit is not humble, it is egotistical and impolite. That is the root of the distortion, that is a flawed and erroneous storyline.

I am moving forward in my inquiry around this. I am checking out the lens, trying on some new cooler funkier shades.

So here goes.

I taught the first ever Let Your Yoga Dance class in China. I was courageous as well as highly creative. I put together a rockin' playlist and dances that blended the fun and playful with the poignant and spiritual. I showed up and gave my all in my most authentic way. I put the students at ease and guided a fabulous practice. I am a talented teacher who has a lot to offer.

I have to say that, just now, I felt uncomfortable writing that. I know its truth, and yet, there is resistance. Old patterns are hard to undo, but bringing them intentionally and consciously into compassionate awareness is the door to transformation.

Is it time for you to give yourself credit? Write your proclamation and share it with me, or even better, the world!